“She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.” -Ariana Dancu
As the year comes to a close, I’ve been going through my very first blog entries. Without knowing what 2017 would bring, I set out to share my own personal experiences, thoughts, and lessons with the hope they may help someone else. Vulnerability has been a common theme in my writing, which is something I never used to be comfortable with. I recently turned 33, and at this point in my life I’ve shed the “what will they think of me?” and embraced the “I love who I am.”
Authenticity will attract those who are in alignment with your values & desires.
It’s not always easy to live authentically, but once you’re on the spiritual path it becomes a whole lot easier. If there is one takeaway from this past year, I hope to have helped at least one woman embrace who they are and gain confidence to show their authenticity to the world. I hope to have helped inspire others to beat to their own drum, laugh at their mistakes, speak up for themselves, and learn from their pain. No caterpillar becomes a butterfly without fighting to fly out of their cocoon. Struggle brings strength.
Teaching has been a wonderful and unexpected opportunity for me to be able to work with girls as young as four and as old as 12. Those are such important, formative years of one’s life. Their eyes are still wide with enthusiasm, imagination, and joy, which gives me hope yet also brings a strong desire to protect them from what the upcoming years may bring. Still innocent and eager to become who they dream to be, I do my best to inspire them to be themselves, have confidence, and embrace their talents. Although I can’t protect anyone but myself, I can provide my own wisdom and strength.
As I think about the lessons I would like to share with others, I reflect on my own insecurities… and how I have overcome them.
1. It’s okay to be sensitive.
I used to think I needed to hide my vulnerability from the world. As a result, I ended up bitter, cynical, and guarded. I thought sensitivity was a weakness, not a strength.
Earlier this year I was introduced to Brené Brown, a brilliant researcher who writes and speaks about overcoming shame. In her Ted Talk, she expressed the power of vulnerability. With vulnerability brings connection; we can all learn from each other’s stories. I believe one of the greatest gifts is to be able to help and inspire others. Thanks to women like Brené, I have an even stronger passion for sharing my own journey. One of my goals for 2018 is to begin to speak to women across the United States, so it will be exciting to see how this goal manifests! Speaking in front of groups was never my favorite thing to do, but as I get older, that fear has slipped away and transformed into excitement.
2. What you wear, or what you own, does not define you
Although I was a quiet teenager, I expressed myself through art, writing, and clothes. I’ve loved fashion throughout my entire life, but as an adult I have learned there is a difference between “fashion” and “style.” Fashion distracts, style connects.
I remember girls in high school turning up their noses at those who didn’t wear name brand clothing, sorority girls rejecting prospective members who didn’t dress to their standards (me included!), and adult women judging others for the brand of their shoes. These are all such trivial, pointless things, yet also can be very damaging to someone’s self esteem. “Stuff” does not define your worth. As a fashion blogger, it was a constant game to “keep up” with what the other women were wearing, promoting, or doing. This was shallow and meaningless.
New York Fashion Week 2014 was a turning point for me. As I met some of the most popular and successful bloggers at a rooftop event at the Empire Hotel, I realized how much I didn’t care anymore. They were lovely women, but it didn’t make them special or unique to carry around the same Kate Spade bag or to have the same updo from a salon sponsorship. It was marketing, and I knew marketing all too well. I had been working in it in one form or another since 2008 and quickly learned it was all an illusion! Yes, I continued to work with small, boutique brands and companies I believed in, but decided to delete my blog and give up my fashion identity on New Year’s Eve 2015. 2016 was the year everything started to shift- I began to purge my gifted blog items, create a capsule wardrobe of all-black pieces, and started writing from my heart. What used to be a photo-focused personal style blog morphed into a brand new writing career- without the fashion facade. I hid behind my oversized sunglasses for far too long- as I took them off and exposed who I truly was, I was overcome with a new inner peace I never thought was possible.
3. It’s better to be alone than unhappy.
I wish more women would feel comfortable being by themselves. Society is so focused on partnering up, and propaganda continually encourages women to “find love,” “dress to impress,” “please their man,” etc. Stop. It.
I’ve refrained from reading magazines such as Glamour and Cosmopolitan for years, and I have never once written about attracting love or a man. However, I’ve written in length about being confident in your own skin. How are we expected to find a partner who is in alignment with our souls if we haven’t figured out who we are first?
I am extremely fortunate to have spent the past couple of years focused on securing confidence within myself, my passions, and surrounding myself with healthy people. This isn’t to say I haven’t encountered negativity, people who have attempted to hold me back, or curve balls; but I have learned that life gives you challenges to strengthen you. Each and every lesson is preparation for amazing things in your future- but first, you need to lay down a solid foundation.
4. Dare to be different.
This is my favorite. I was always a bit of a black sheep; a city girl at heart living in a small town, I longed for bright lights, anonymity, opportunity, and sophistication. I can recall walking down Front Street, the main strip in my hometown, wearing big shades, all black, and high heels- at 16 years old. Wise beyond my years and feeling like an outcast, I counted down the days for high school graduation. I even graduated a semester early! I wanted to surround myself with people who didn’t see me as that quiet, insecure girl. People who would see me for the person I truly am… the woman I wanted to be.
After college, I moved to San Francisco after ending a serious relationship and started my journey of self discovery. Several cities later, here I am in Boston, with a clear head, a plethora of experiences, and healthy view of the world. It definitely didn’t happen overnight.
I’ve learned what a gift it is to be different- when you can share your own experiences with the world, you help to inspire others to discover the people they are, too. With a little encouragement and a lot of love, we can reach any heights we desire- just remember to keep your head up, give yourself compassion, and follow your heart.
It’s worth the ride.